Hysteresis effects in the formation of a neutralizing beam plasma at low ion energy
Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas, CNRS-Ecole Polytechnique - route de Saclay, 91128 Palaiseau, France
Received: 18 September 2013
Accepted: 4 November 2013
In this paper, the PEGASES II thruster prototype is used as an ion source generating low-energy positive Ar ion beam, extracted without an external neutralizer. The ions are extracted and accelerated from the source using a two-grid system. The extracted positive ion beam current is measured on a large beam target that can be translated along the acceleration axis. The ion beam current shows a stepwise transition from a low-current to a high-current extraction regime with hysteresis. The hysteresis region depends strongly upon the beam target position. Langmuir probe measurements in the plume show high plasma potentials and low plasma densities in the low-current mode, while the plasma potential drops and the density increases in the high-current mode. The ion energy distribution functions of the beam are measured for different regimes of ion extraction. The ion beam extracted in the high-current mode is indicated by the presence of an additional low-energy peak corresponding to ions from an ion-beam plasma created in the downstream chamber, as well as 10–20 times higher intensity of the primary ion beam peak. The hysteresis behavior is explained by the formation of a downstream neutralizing beam plasma, that depends on the target position and pressure in agreement with a Paschen-like breakdown by secondary electrons. The obtained results are of high relevance for further development of the PEGASES thruster, as well as for improving existing neutralizer-free concepts of the broad-beam ion sources.
PACS: 52.40.Mj – Particle beam interactions in plasmas / 52.75.-d – Plasma devices / 41.75.Ak – Positive-ion beams
© EPLA, 2013